“It is not the time for guns. Now is the battle of the minds.”
I had the opportunity last night to meet a woman who grew up during Apartheid in South Africa. The BYU College of Humanities sponsors a trip to Alabama to revisit the Civil Rights movement and participate in a march to Montgomery from Selma to commemorate the freedom that Black Americans were able to obtain (and continue to fight for civil equality for all). My wife went on this trip last year, and last year’s group got together last night with the next group to share experiences, advice, food, etc. I went with my wife because I’m also a friend of the Dean who hosted the event.
The speaker was a woman who grew up in South Africa during the transition from and break away from Apartheid (In South Africa, European colonists took over and a 10% minority of whites took forceful control of the 90% black population from 1948-1994). She explained the monumental example of Nelson Mandela who peacefully endured 27 years in a prison cell smaller than my bathroom. White ruling politicians tried to bribe Mandela, to which he would reply (to the guards), “Please take me back to my cell; this man is wasting my time.” Mandela fought with ideas in order to gain peace and equality for all.
The speaker (whose name I won’t even try to spell) told us about the day when Mandela was finally freed. He walked out of the prison gates and a press conference was already scheduled. Word spread like wildfire that he would be speaking, and all doors were opened so that wherever you were, you could walk into a house and hear President Mandela speak. All blacks in South Africa knew this was happening, and there were no people in the streets; they were all “glued to the television, waiting to see what he would tell us to do”. She told us of the younger generation and their parents, families who had had their houses burned, their children taken and murdered, their families destroyed. These people wanted revenge now that power was back in their hands. People were angry and rightly so. Mandela calmed a nation by teaching them through his example that nonviolent protest was more effective. He did not want war. He did not want revenge, and he was able to calm the angry people in the nation.
The speaker told us about how equality was won by Mandela’s suffering, but racism still exists today. In fact, racism is alive and well. Even though schools and workplaces have been integrated, there is “silent racism”. She works in HR and told us about how hard it is often to get white employers to hire black Africans for their teams. She told us about cutting pay/bonuses for those who would not hire blacks. “When you hit them in the pocket, they cooperate. Then they come up and say, ‘Where can we find organizations that will have a black man for us to hire?’ ”
The fight against racism is working, slowly, but effectively. The fight is different now than it was before. “It is not the time for guns. Now is the battle of the minds.”
That truth applies everywhere, whether we are in South Africa, Benghazi, Syria, Chile, México, or even these United States of America. George Washington said, “Few people know the predicament we are in, on a thousand accounts; fewer still will believe, if any disaster happens to these lines, from what cause it flows.” Be it racism, war, government reform, the media, etc, I agree with Gen. Washington when he says that few know the predicament we are in. If now is indeed the time for a battle of the minds, we must be educated. If you are reading this blog, you are literate and have the capacity to learn anything. If you are reading this blog, you also have access to wikipedia, online encyclopedias, speeches, data, all the information in the world. I have no excuse for being ignorant about any subject that concerns the American people today, the information is all right here at my fingertips. If we want freedom and equality, now “is not the time for guns. Now is the battle of the minds.”